Good news in the Year for Priests Print
Living and Learning
Thursday, Sep. 24, 2009 -- 12:00 AM

Living and Learning column by Msgr. Daniel T. Ganshert

Median age? Currently 66. Transitions out of active service? Currently 1500 with 400 to replace them annually.

You guessed it. These are priest statistics in our country.

Now for the good news. We currently have 25 fine seminarians studying for the Diocese of Madison. For the past several years, our priests and people have been meeting and planning and planning and meeting in order to assist Bishop Morlino in his responsibility to sustain and provide for vital communities of faith throughout the many parishes and ministries of our diocese now and into the future. Our priests, who will be gathering next week at our annual assembly, continue to draw encouragement from the prayers and support of the people they serve and with whom they work, especially during this Year for Priests.

Recommendations from the Priest Personnel Board for spring priest assignments are requested by the bishop. This process begins in the fall with all the priests being invited to complete an annual questionnaire having to do with the needs of our diocese and the needs and preferences of our priests. Where indicated, meetings follow. And so it goes. Recently, some of our larger priest ordination classes have been approaching eligibility for retirement. This will continue for a while.

If the preceding provides a little perspective, may it not overshadow our unfailing prayers and trust in the Lord when it comes to providing laborers for the harvest. Pope Benedict XVI has said it is the calling of the priest to pray, provide care, and preach. Knowing that if we do our part that God will do for us what we cannot do for ourselves gives reassurance. He is still calling forth those we need to serve the Church in ordained ministry and consecrated life.

Guided by and trusting in the Spirit become more than a planning process as we grow in recognition of the gift of ordained priesthood to us all. There is more to be done for sure, but I know I join all my brother priests in gratitude to God for the gift of the countless people in our diocese who assist us in our calling and inspire us by their lives of faith. Though ongoing challenges and changes await us, we share them with the dioceses across our country. We are not alone. We are learning from one another. We are growing in confidence as together we strive to do our part in faith, hope, and love to meet the future as brothers and sisters in Christ.

Please remember us priests in your prayers that we may better pray, provide care, and preach for you.

Msgr. Daniel Ganshert is the vicar general for the Diocese of Madison.